JEFFERSON, Ohio – Harlan Baldwin stood before Judge Robert Wynn July 24 and made his first public statement since he was charged with animal cruelty and neglect in the deaths of his dairy heifers.
Baldwin, of rural Ashtabula, told Judge Wynn he had made an error in judgment.
He had entered a plea of guilty to 30 of the counts and was in the Eastern County Court for sentencing.
Wynn sentenced Baldwin to 90 days in jail, 80 of which would be suspended; 99 days under electronic surveillance at home, during which he will be allowed to work; three years of closely supervised probation, during which time he will not be allowed to own any cows or horses; and 200 hours of community service.
He also levied a $200 fine for each count, totaling $6,000, plus court costs.
Judge Wynn told Baldwin that what he had done – leaving the barn he rented to house his heifers uncleaned for more than a year while more than 30 of them had died and been buried under the manure pack – was “a total abandonment of responsibility to helpless creatures which called for stern measures.”
Baldwin was then ordered to report to begin serving his jail sentence before the end of the day. He will be released to begin the electronic surveillance in his home at the end of this week.
Baldwin was charged March 30 with 49 counts of animal cruelty following a search and seizure by officials of the barn he was renting in Sheffield Township.
Investigators discovered the bodies of at least 31 heifers and seven calves buried in the manure pack and scattered around the lot.
The remaining 43 cattle, some of which were stuck in the manure pack and near death, were ordered removed from the barn, but Baldwin cleaned the barn before the court order could be carried out.
The dead animals were buried in a pit on the farm. The remaining cattle have since been sold.
Charges filed against Baldwin included 38 for the deaths of animals, and 11 counts for live animals that were suffering from dehydration and emaciation.
After the sentencing, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said he is very satisfied with the result.
“Judge Wynn took into consideration that this was a first offense,” Sartini said, “but he gave it the seriousness that it deserves.
“His sentence sends the message that anyone who seriously neglects animals will have to pay the consequences.”
He added that part of the community service that Baldwin will serve has already been arranged with the Ashtabula County Fair Board to have him work at the fair.
“He won’t be selling lemonade,” Sartini said. “I understand there are barns to be cleaned out, repairs to be made, that kind of work.”
Both Baldwin and his attorney declined to comment on the sentencing.
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